In professional sports, it is not always the hand raising the trophy that lingers in our minds. Once in a while it is those who came up short that we remember. LeBron James pulling off his Cleveland Cavaliers jersey after losing to the Boston Celtics in 2010. Bill Belichick walking off the field with one second remaining following his team's loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl to ruin the New England Patriots perfect season. The ball skipping between Boston Red Sox first basemen Bill Buckner's legs as he stood helpless. Yes, each of these moments had a clear winner.
But sometimes it is failure that defines a moment, a game, a season, a lifetime.
There is a reason John Cena is loved and cherished by many. He represents hard work, dedication, passion, and perseverance. Never give up, and never surrender. No matter how high the odds are stacked against him, Cena always finds a way to rise above.
The funny thing about always winning, though, is that it is boring as hell.
It should be of no surprise that I used to be the biggest John Cena mark. From the ‘burbs of Boston? Check. A white kid who wore baggy pants, listened to Eminem, and talked liked a gangsta? Check. A smart ass that could, and would, say anything he wanted? Check.
Cena was my hero, and "Basic Thuganomics" was my battle cry. I loved him because I wanted to be him. Someone who was given almost no chance, almost cut by the WWE, and yet rose through the ranks to be world champion.
And that is when it went downhill.
The change in intro songs was foreshadowing. "Basic Thuganomics" is young, angry, and motivated. "The Time is Now" is simple, relaxed, and pop. A spinner US Championship was the warning shot. The change in WWE championship design was brash and over the top. A spinner of the company's namesake title is gaudy and ostentatious. The numerous title reigns and permanent position at the top was an all out assault on our intelligence. Everyone loves an underdog who will never give up. No one enjoys it when they actually win all the time.
The WWE is in a fascinating position with the face of their company. He doesn't have the title on him, he is hated by at least half of the fan base, and he is up against one of the greatest of all time. Everyone thinks they have this match figured out before it even happens. If Cena wins? Oh, look, Mr. Never-Gives-Up has another one under his belt. If Cena loses? Oh, he looks like crap against a guy who isn't even there full time. You can hedge you bets with run-ins and schmoozy finishes.
Talk about the pros and cons of every possible outcome all you want, the fact is that it comes down to this: if John Cena wins this match, he will have reached his absolute fullest potential in the WWE. Think about that for a second. There will be almost nothing left for him to accomplish.
He wants to get the WWE Championship back? There's your No Way Out. How about finally reuniting the two main event belts? That's SummerSlam right there. Maybe finally defeating the Money in the Bank winner? Hell, let's say he gets the belt back at Money in the Bank, and make it a triple threat between the two winners at Night of Champions. Need a big main event for Survivor Series? John Cena alone versus an entire team big enough for you? There's got to be something major for the Royal Rumble, right? John Cena wins it all as the undisputed WWE champion. Well whom would he face at WrestleMania 29 then? Screw it. Lets pencil him in for breaking The Undertaker's streak.
Maybe this sounds extreme to you, but honestly it's not by much.
What would be left? Meaningless feuds, boring stories, and a slow but determined march to pass Ric Flair's all time championship record. There's nothing else. John Cena is 34-years-old. He knows nothing but professional wrestling. It is what defines him as a person. This is a man that wants to be Hulk Hogan without the heel turn (or the alleged sex tape). What the hell is he going to do?
As he so eloquently put it in his last face-off with The Rock, "I rise above, and I win. And although there are some people here that hate that, they know, and I know, that I'm going to win at WrestleMania."
Yes, John. We know you will win. We always know you are going to win. Because you have never shown us anything else. You have never shown what it is like for the great and powerful Cena to lose.
And that is why he must.
"I have to win this match more than anything in my entire life," Cena claims. In literature, this is what we call foreshadowing. This is the cry of the almighty solider, right before he loses in battle. When all is at stake for our hero, a tragedy befalls them.
And that would make Cena the most interesting man in the
He would be forced to show us who he truly is, what he really is all about. What happens to the man who never loses, who always succeeds, when he finally fails? There is no depression worse than seeing your goal so close yet so far away. I want to know if he's still smiling, still rising above hate, still loving the fans that say he sucks. Or maybe, just maybe, it all finally gets to him.
I know it's a cliché smark statement to demand he finally turns. But I'm not asking for a true heel turn. Not really. What would I want to see? I want to see The Rock win clean in the middle of the ring, 1-2-3. And as an offer of goodwill, extends his hand for a well fought match.
I want to see Cena turn his back and walk away.
I want to see him turn his back on Rocky, on his fans, and on his haters. When he has absolutely no one to blame but himself. When he is forced to look inside, and realize that maybe he just doesn't quite measure up to the greatest of all time.
Then I want to see him rise again. Start from the very bottom, and work his way up. A hero determined to restore his legacy. A man who can be knocked down but not out. A face chasing after the gold, instead of always having it handed to him.
You want to complain about The Rock burying him? Damn right he would bury him. That is what Cena needs the most. Want to moan about how it's bad for business? If they cannot handle any period of time without him at the top, then they don't deserve to be in business anymore. You tired of bellyaching about how he always wins? Then a loss would be the greatest thing for him, and for us.
Do I think this will happen? No, not really. But this isn't fantasy booking, folks. This is just telling you what must happen to protect John Cena. A triumph here would be meaningless. A defeat would be the most meaningful thing in the world.
"I've seen this movie a thousand times," Cena tells us, "and I know how it ends..."
Yeah, John. We do too. And that is why you must lose.
The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.